Despite magazine readership plummeting in recent years The Guardian reports that more than one million British consumers have stopped buying magazines), a number of “luxury” magazine titles appear to be bucking the trend and be in rude health.
While many mid-market titles have shut-up shop, gone online or pursued a future as freemium titles, Vogue, now in its 100th year, and lifestyle magazine Wallpaper, recently celebrated their biggest ever issues in fabulous, glossy print.
Nicholas Coleridge, international president of Condé Nast (publisher of titles including Vogue, Glamour and Vanity Fair) believes the ongoing success in print of high-end or luxury titles is because digital content served on an iPad does not match the experience offered by a magazine.
Coleridge told journalists: “It is very hard to replicate the physical allure of a luxury magazine on other platforms. [It is] something to do with the sheen of the paper, the way that the ink sits on the page, the smell of money and desire that wafts off the page. Readers move into a different mode when they engage with a glossy. Advertisers understand this.”
Jo Blake, head of publishing at Havas Media Group (a global marketing and communication organisation) agrees and said: “Many people say that press advertising is dead or dying, but glossy magazines are holding their own.”
Blake continued: “For many luxury clients it is first and foremost the prime medium, more so than TV, because they know competitors will all be in there. [High-end] magazines are still number one for those advertisers.”
While digital subscriptions to a magazines are on the rise, much of the growth is coming from news and current affairs titles including the Economist, The Week and Spectator.
Meanwhile print sales in the Luxury fashion and lifestyle niche are booming with Vogue selling on average 200,000 copies per issue, up from 135,000 in 1989 (pre-Internet). Tatler and GQ have seen similar growth spurts.
However, luxury magazine publishers would be foolish to be complacent.
Douglas McCabe, chief executive at Enders Analysis (an organisation providing research into subscription services) said: “We don’t think digital editions of magazines have worked at all, bar one or two exceptions. While these premium brands will continue to play an important role with advertisers and readers, there are risks from [social and digital] media from the rise of bloggers and vloggers.
“Digital has brought down the barriers of entry for [creating and showcasing] content, recommendation and discovery of products. Magazines will have to fight hard to compete with that going forward.”